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A Blessing in the Frozen Food Section

Meredith Morckel, ARCHIVED

ith the book "God Stories" (2008), Editor Jennifer Skiff has compiled an anthology of first-hand accounts by people who have seen God, heard from God, or witnessed something miraculous that they attribute to God. It's a book that asks to be read slowly. I only got through two or three stories at a time before I had to put it down and digest what I'd read. The stories are powerful because they can't be explained by science or dismissed by coincidence. Like the parting of the Red Sea, like Lazarus rising from the dead, like Moses and the burning bush, they are miracles.

I react to reading the first-hand accounts in "God Stories" in four phases: awe, skepticism, relief and jealousy. The feeling of awe always comes first. There's a tingle of amazement, maybe a tear or two, and a desire to praise God. Immediately following, whether a week or a second later, is skepticism. Did she really hear that or was it just her imagination? Was he dreaming? Hallucinating? Was she just insane? The third reaction also follows either a week or a second later. The feeling of relief is almost as strong as the awe. I feel relieved that God is actively involved in our lives, that He does hear and act on prayers, that miracles that happened 2000 years ago can still happen today. The "relief" phase ends the same as the "awe" phase: praising God. And then comes the jealousy.

While reading the book, I searched my past for my own "God story." I tried to remember a time when an angel swooped through my window or a mysterious stranger rescued me. I couldn't think of any. Jealousy is a sour, rotten feeling. It's an emotion rooted in love, which gives it momentum and strength. Every time I hear about someone seeing God, I wonder why God hasn't revealed Himself to me. Every time I hear about someone hearing from God, I wonder why God hasn't spoken to me. I conclude that God loves them more than me, and I become jealous. If God really loved me, wouldn't He put money in my mailbox? Wouldn't He talk to me through a burning bush?

And then I remembered a dream.

I didn't know Dick very well but we attended the same church, a small protestant congregation in northeast Ohio (United States). Dick was kind and quiet. He was the head usher until he reached his eighties and became ill. One night I had a dream about Dick. I was shopping in a supermarket when I saw Dick and his daughter in the frozen food section. He was sitting in a wheelchair and she was pushing him towards me. I greeted them both, and his daughter and I had a friendly conversation. It was cold because we were in an aisle of freezers full of frozen waffles and TV dinners. Dick sat quietly while we talked. He didn't say a word, just stared at me. I remember that his look made me feel antsy and exposed. After a few minutes I said goodbye to them both but before I could walk away, Dick suddenly raised his left hand. He gently placed the heel of his palm on my forehead, and smiled. He didn't speak, but with that odd omnipotent dream logic, I knew he was blessing me. Without a word, they left and the dream ended.

And then, like a cliché from an old horror movie, my mother called me the next morning and told me that Dick had died sometime during the night.

The more I think about it the more I'm convinced. What I experienced was more than a dream. It was more than some cocktail of memories and images that my brain entertained me with in my sleep. Though I'll probably never know for sure, my theory is that Dick's soul had some business to do between death and Heaven. I wonder how many other dreams he visited that night, how many other people he blessed.

And I wonder what his blessing means for me.

And then, when I really open my mind, I start to see God stories everywhere in my life. When that car spun around on the highway, maybe it wasn't a coincidence that it missed me. Maybe it was more than luck. When the blood tests were negative, maybe it was more than luck. When I couldn't swim, but somehow managed to flail my way to the shallow end of the pool, maybe it was more than luck. Maybe, just maybe, it was God.

Maybe I don't need to see a sign; maybe I don't need to have a conversation with a burning bush to know that He loves me. To know that He has a purpose and an investment in my life. To know that He listens to me. Maybe He hasn't put money in my mailbox because he knows I don't need physical evidence to see Him.

© Meredith H. Morckel


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